How to Use Competitor Research to Improve Your Email Campaigns

If you’re launching a new product or targeting a new market segment, and wondering about the best way to take a first swing; or, if you’re starting a business from scratch or trying to get a new business off the ground, and wondering about the best way to ensure that the products you’re building will have the highest likelihood of making sales, then this tutorial is for you.

While it’s impossible to guarantee that any one strategy or approach or demographic group will be successful, we can – and should – always test our assumptions. We do this through market research, by determining the biggest players and finding the most profitable and successful competitors in the industry (read this article for a similar analysis of a marketing landing page).

In this tutorial, we’ll go through the motions of doing some real market research for an imaginary company that specializes…in online horseback riding. Arbitrary, I know; I’ve never heard of it, but I want to walk you through the initial steps of the initial market research process for a new business idea.

The “Black Lamborghini Test”

To refine my ideas, I’ll need to first determine my objectives and assumptions.

  • My objective is to build a 7-figure business that teaches horseback riding online to children and young adults.
  • My assumption is that there’s enough of a market, and that parents are willing to pay on the Internet. My target audience is parents. In terms of how we’ll be selling, my assumption is that I’ll create a big, video library from which customers will be able to pick digital courses.

How do we determine the biggest players in the market? I start to determine who is successful with a tongue-in-cheek tactic we use at CLVboost called the “black lamborghini test”. Here’s how it works:

  1. First, I want to gather and find everyone who sells something similar to what I’m aiming to sell to a similar target audience.
  2. I grab every single one of these players and then ask, ‘which of these business owners could buy a black lamborghini this week with money made from this business alone?’
  3. Almost guaranteed, once you’ve filtered through the group, you’ll get rid of 98% of the competitors i.e. the small players, and you’ll be left with the legitimate businesses making a profit.

I particularly look at businesses with paid ads; this is not always the best way to determine success, but often if someone is willing to pay for ad space consistently, then they’re generally a real player in the market. You can also look at industry forums to get a better idea.

Market Research 101

What does our market look like? What do they seem to like and respond to in terms of equestrian training (for the purposes of our example business)? Again, we want to question our assumptions by looking at the big players, infer who they are targeting, and think about how this will inform our marketing campaigns.

I start off with Google searches on four separate pages using four different sets of key words: horseback riding online video; best horseback riding website; equestrian training online; and best online equestrian training site.

On all four search pages, I see “equestrian coach” pop up again and again (hint, hint – equestrian seems to be a key word and shows up above the fold in three random searches; these are the types of cues I want to pick up on).

Without further adieu, a market research 101 walk-through of three selected sites:

1 – equestrian coach.com

  • If I’m going to be sniffing around and getting a sense for how real a business is, I look at how modern and direct respons-ish is the home page; in this case, it’s sophisticated enough to have a sales page with a video, purchase options, and marketing testimonials. These are marketing fundamentals, and tend to be good signs.

 

Site 1

 

  • I also look at the ‘about page’ and the ‘contact us’ page to get a feel for company history and reputation. The about us page (or about the owner) has accomplishments and a video about Bernie, who is clearly the owner. I watch for a few seconds and can take away that it’s about Bernie’s early love for horses, and how he became a professional equestrian rider and coach – a bit of an underdog story.

 

Site 1.3

 

  • I also take a look at the social media page, specifically Facebook; they have 13K subscribers, not bad for this market.
  • It doesn’t seem clear whether this business is targeting adults or children, but it doesn’t seem to target the latter. I’m questioning my assumption about parents and thinking I could be on the wrong path, that this business is a tough to sell to parents; then again, it could also mean there’s an opportunity in the market.

2 –  Hayo-Went-Ha Camps (associated with YMCA)

  • As I poke around the Google search page, I see an ad for a camp in the sidebar. It seems parents may be targeted with horse camps, and I’m curious as to how this camp markets to parents.
  • I click on the home page where there is a featured video; right away, I get a “wholesome” sense of joy and fun, images of kids bonding, notebook paper graphics.

Site 3

  • I could call and figure out the size of the camp population, because if they’re doing well and this place is jam-packed, I can figure out how they’re advertising and what other materials they’re sending out to parents. Even if we’re not selling camps, we might want a similar appeal, since parents and kids seem to be the target audience.

3 – equine distance learning

  • This site uses paid advertising, adding to the legitimacy factor.
  • There isn’t a classic direct response element, driving us to an explicit course, but there are links to various course types.
  • I click on some of the courses to find out what people want to learn. Initially, I only though about the technique of horseback riding, but when I click through I see courses on horse health, treating wounds, psychology, alternative therapies, etc. – maybe content to consider as I’m creating my own product campaign.

 

Site 4

 

  • The page has a nice range of testimonials.
  • There are pictures of children, so it seems they’re open to selling to parents.
  • I check the Facebook page, which has about 400 followers – not nearly as big as the first site.
  • So far, I haven’t seen anyone target children directly; I might call and ask about some of their courses and the target audience.

The Take Aways

Out of all the sites I covered, the first site seems to have the best chance of passing the “black lamborghini test”. Of course, I’ll likely keep digging to see who else is in the space. Now that I have an idea of the competition, I want to go back to that first site and consider these three questions:

Close

After doing a couple of rounds of market research and asking these three key question, I might think twice about my original intentions or ideas for a product or service campaign.

Only the market can tell you if you’ll be successful – we call this “voting with their wallet” – but ultimately through solid market research, we can take a good first swing at creating marketing campaign based on a specific product or service, with a better idea of target audience and how to sell.

Need help with your own marketing campaigns, or with finishing up your marketing research so that you can start that marketing campaign? Contact us at CLVboost for a free consultation on how to drive customer lifetime value.

-Daniel Faggella

CLVboost Founder

 

 

 

About The Author

Daniel Faggella

I grow businesses with marketing automation, email marketing, and conversion-rate optimization. I’ve spoken on business and emerging technologies internationally and at some of America’s finest schools (Yale, Stanford, Cornell, etc…). My marketing strategies have been featured in the Boston Business Journal, MarketingProfs, Direct Marketing News, and much more. CLVboost is where I share marketing strategies, TechEmergence.com is my major pursuit.